Christopher Tye and Claude Le Jeune: 16th-century musical radicals, Wigmore Hall, 22 October 2017

I got several e-mails from the Wig slightly changing this concert; at one point swapping an artiste, at another tweaking the programme. At no point undermining my purpose, which was to hear viol music by two Renaissance composers whose viol music I had never heard before.

Here is the Wigmore Hall page on the gig we finally saw.

We really enjoyed our evening.

It was more or less exactly a year ago that we saw and heard Phantasm do a wonderful job of Orlando Gibbons – click here.

In truth, I think Gibbons is the better gig – or at least more to our taste.

The Tye is rather relentlessly somber. But he must  have been a spunky chap. Word on the street is that Queen Elizabeth did not like his playing and sent a verger to tell Tye that he was playing out of tune. Tye sent back the message that it was her ears that were out of tune. I’ll remember that riposte for my baroq-ulele playing and singing.

Still, we preferred the Le Jeune, who was new to both of us as a composer and far more upbeat.

Janie was a little disappointed that the lute was such a bit part for these pieces. We had recently seen Paul O’Dette’s superb solo concert – click here – but of course when the lute was part of an ensemble it tended to have a continuo role in those days.

We always get a warm feeling with Phantasm. Laurence Dreyfus comes across so nicely and explains things without the slightest note of condescension.

Yes we enjoyed very much indeed. If you have never seen Phantasm live, seek them out. If you live in a remote place, I would recommend the Gibbons as a place to start listening,ahead of Tye or Le Jeune,  but for sure do listen to some…

…and if it is the Tye you fancy, you can click the image below and Amazon it:

The World of Orlando Gibbons, Phantasm, Wigmore Hall, 24 October 2016

This had allegedly been a day off, although I did plenty of work during the day. Still, Janie and I played tennis in the morning and had  a very pleasant late lunch and late afternoon together.

Then to the Wiggy for this concert, booked a long time ago and I had no recollection what it was about.

Ah yes, a rare opportunity to hear consort music by Orlando Gibbons, performed by the esteemed viol ensemble Phantasm.

They were great on the night.

Here’s a link to the Wigmore Hall stub for this concert, so you can see what we heard, as it were. 

All the music was wonderful but, as Laurence Dreyfus quite rightly puts it in his programme notes, it is the six part pieces that really stand out.

Listening to them is like peering into a kaleidoscope…[t]he term ‘syncopation’ simply does not cover it

Syncopation – surely not “The Funky Gibbons”? – no, perhaps not. Very soothing music as it happens.

Dreyfus also mentions in the notes that it is so difficult to keep time for these pieces that even seasoned performers can miss their entry beat…

…and indeed he came a cropper himself on one occasion. Dreyfus took it on the chin and they started O Lord In Thy Wrath again.

Indeed, Laurence Dreyfus seems a rather sweet, self-effacing chap. When he introduced the encore, Pavane in F by John Jenkins, the elderly gentleman next to me said, rather loudly, to his wife…

John Who?

…Laurence Dreyfus smiled sweetly and said, a little louder, directly to the gentleman…

John Jenkins.

…I liked that.

The Gibbons music reminded me a little of the Corelli sonatas I enjoy so much, but of course these pieces were written so much earlier – incredibly sophisticated and rich sounds for their period.

Wonderful musicians all, Phantasm. Of course they spend almost as long tuning their viols as playing; that’s viol music for you.

I’m thinking I should invest in a good recording of these consort pieces. Glenn Gould is said to have listened to little else at times, but then he was as mad as a bag of frogs, so perhaps not a role model for listening choices.

Still, I loved the Gibbons consort sound and Janie dozed and listened appropriately.

Excellent review by Michael Church in The Independent – click here.

Yummy Chinese grub taken away from The Four Seasons on Queensway to round off the evening.

Update: I couldn’t resist downloading Phantasm’s recording of Gibbons Consort music – click here for link – delightful sound on the recording too. Not the same as live, of course, when is it ever, but lovely soothing sound.